Text description provided by the architects. The 23,000-sf Career Academy of Pella, which provides flexible vocational shops and classrooms, is the product of a unique collaboration among the local school district, community college, private schools, and area industry. Students of all ages gain skills vital to the local economy through STEM instruction, an applied pedagogy integrating science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.
The building, northwest of the existing high school, tucks into the hillside with topographic alignment that minimizes earthwork. Careful detailing of common building materials elevates the rural public school’s design. Materials and massing assume a Midwestern, pragmatic sensibility, deriving character from simple forms, monolithic planes, and spanning glass. The rigor of the Career Academy’s detailing and execution embodies the technically focused curriculum contained within and affirms the value of vocational career paths. Its confident formal language aligns with the Academy’s mission to progressively re-shape the future. Here, students learn skills upon which they can build careers and communities.
Central to the building’s sustainable mission is its durable flexibility. The structure can calibrate to a range of uses, with a ‘loose-fit’ that allows for easy future adaptation. General classrooms deliver diverse curricula, maximizing potential use and ensuring long-term value. A double height circulation spine organizes program, gathers daylight, and provides views, and gives access to the various classroom and shop spaces. Each shop has direct access to the exterior.